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Archive for September, 2007

Last Friday was the official first day of fall and we’ve already been enjoying cooler temps.  If you’re like me, a change in season conjures up the desire for trying something new around the house.  Sometimes I paint a room or rearrange the pictures.  Soon it will be time to break out the holiday decorations but in the meantime I’m bored with my space.  This got me thinking about a subject from a previous newsletter that I thought I’d share; it’s called ‘Interior Redesign’. 

No matter how much we love our stuff, looking at the same arrangement of furniture and accessories can put us into a state of boredom with our home.  Since replacing all our furnishings isn’t feasible for most of us, why not look at your home in a whole new way and redesign it with what you’ve got.

Interior redesign is based on the philosophy of using what you already own to redecorate your home.  No matter what the style or age of your stuff, this is a fun way to re-work your space and beat the same-old-same-old you might be feeling.  A friend (and client ~ her beautiful home is for sale in Mountain Park Ranch if you want to check it out on my website, 34th Way) of mine did this right before we listed last month and she really created a wow factor for showings.   

First, start with a one-room make over; don’t take on the whole house.  Begin by asking yourself how you want the room in question to function for your family and ideally how you’d like it to look and feel based on how you use it on an everyday basis.  Maybe you have small children and host play dates or perhaps teens hang out at your home.  Do you do more adult entertaining or maybe you work from home and have clients visit.   It’s important to understand how that room is used and by what family members before getting started.   

Now, look at the room and establish if it looks unbalanced.  Is there more or larger furniture on one side of the room than another?  It is all pushed up against the wall?  Do the colors work in harmony or discord?  Does the furniture arrangement invite in family and guests or block them from the room?  Once you start looking at your space you’ll start to see these things and get a feel for how to change them.  Sometimes you just need to start moving furniture around and experimenting.  It’s like brainstorming; no idea is a bad idea.  I like to ‘float’ furniture so it’s not all up against the wall but not every room is conducive to that idea.  It just depends on the layout. 

Once you’ve got the furniture where you like it, focus on the accessories.  Walk around your house picking out different items like candles, photos, mood lamps, wall hangings & other stuff then sit them all in once place.  After that, start working with them in your ‘new’ room, interchanging different pieces till a new arrangement feels right.  You’ll be amazed at your re-vamped look, and all by working with what you’ve got!  You’ll see that by moving things around you actually end up giving a new look to more than one room without feeling overwhelmed.

I’ve attached a before (the 1st photo) and after photo to give you a feel for redesign.  I actually borrowed these from Deborah Goodacre here in the valley who specializes in affordable redesign services.  I learned some of these tricks from her but if you get stuck doing it on your own she’s very affordable and has lots of happy clients.  Let me know if you want her contact information and I’ll gladly pass it along!

 

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On my last blog I promised to talk about some of the things that can affect the value of your home – some positively and some negatively.  Good or bad, it’s all good stuff to know. We all know that updating the kitchen results in a higher ROI (return on investment) when it comes time to sell.  If done right, you can get about 95% of your investment back, sometimes more.  But doing it right is the key.  Some of the basics include solid surface countertops (granite is still the preferred choice of Buyers), plenty of workspace, good quality flooring (tile or stone is best for Arizona) and cabinets that are in good condition.  They don’t have to be new but they need to be in good shape, free of water stains and excessive wear.  Add some new pulls, too.  You’d be surprised at how much that alone can change the look.  Here in Ahwatukee we have a lot of the “pickled” wood and standard oak on the market.  Refinish those cabinets (I suggest using a professional since kitchen cabinets are at eye level and you can’t hide your mistakes very well) and you have an entirely different look. Second of course are updated bathrooms.  We’ve talked a lot about bathrooms and little ways you can modernize them without breaking the bank.  (see archive Tukee Talks for ideas)  When remodeling, don’t take out your tub, it’s a selling point.  Buyers seem to think they want one even though they may never dip a toe into it.  It’s the idea of taking a nice, relaxing bath that hooks ’em.  A spa or whirlpool tub are an asset but you can get away with a standard soaking tub (to see one check out old Tukee Talks) which won’t require running electrical if you don’t already have a spa style tub.   If you do add the spa, make sure you have the right plumbing in place and your water heater can handle the addition.  The pipes have to be big enough to carry the volume of water needed and your water heater has to be able to handle the job, too.  A 75-gallon hot water heater is a minimum.Master suites are a lot like a spa tub, Buyers like to think they’ll lounge in it, reading their favorite book while sipping a cup of tea.  Heck, wouldn’t we all like to do that?  Regardless of if it gets used or not it’s a selling point.  Create a lounging area if you can and clean out those walk-in closets so you can actually walk into them – closet space is at a premium in most Ahwatukee homes so show how to make the most of your space. If your master is too small to create a sitting area just be sure to keep the room well appointed and inviting when selecting your furnishings.The use of natural materials is very big.  We use a ton of tile here in Arizona and wood has become popular, too.  Wood (or laminate though a hybrid is best) or ceramic tile is a big plus over wall-to-wall carpet.  Granite and stone tile are big favorites, too.  That’s not to say rip all the carpet out of your home, just use it in the right places like bedrooms.We’ve all heard how important curb appeal is to the sale of a home and that will always be true.  Keep your landscaping neat. Trim your trees, rake in stray rocks, pull dead plants and add a dash of color, whether it’s with potted plants, a bright flag or other decorative item, color is important. That first impression is everything, in fact, it could add as much as 10% to the value of your home.  In this market a home with bad curb appeal may result in a drive by where the would-be Buyer won’t even get out of the car.  Trust me, that happen.Bright and light sells, that’s why I always tell clients to keep the window coverings open, remove sunscreens and wash the exterior windows before we list so they sparkle.  The latter two add to the curb appeal and inside it makes a huge difference, too.  Buyers want a home to be bright and airy inside, not dark and cave-like.Exposure is a big one, especially in the Arizona heat.  If you sit at an east-west exposure you’re going to want to fix up whatever has been battered by the heat over the years.  On the front of the house it usually means refinishing your front door and replacing anything that’s been faded by the sun like your doormat or decorative touches.  In the backyard add shades you can pull up and down to block the evening light from main living areas.  Anything that can help with energy efficiency is a selling point of course.  Insulated windows usually pay for themselves in five years (so maybe add them now instead of later…) and present a great selling benefit.Landscaping ties into curb appeal but we’re talking a little broader here.  Create sitting areas and little gardens, even if they are of the potted variety.  The front porch in making a comeback but you don’t need a wrap-around to get the same feel.  Look at your space and see where you can clear out and level a small area to add pavers and a couple of chairs.  Same goes for the backyard, create comfortable sitting places and color with pots and decor.  Staining the concrete on your patio is a great way to add warmth and texture.  We’ll talk about that one in another blog.  I did mine and can help you learn from my mistakes!Storage is always a plus but sometimes you have to be creative.  As we’ve mentioned, Ahwatukee homes generally lack closet space and pull down attics are rare. So maybe you need to add a set of ceiling storage racks (they mount to the garage ceiling and can hold a considerable amount of weight) or a portable storage shed on the side of the house. You can put your garden tools in the shed and free up some of your garage for the kids’ bikes.Outdated appliances are a big negative. This is an easy fix, in fact I have a program available to me as a Realtor through Westar that can save you considerable money when buying Dacor or Viking appliances.  The Dacor package (range, microwave, dishwasher and bottom freezer fridge) can be had for $6,800, retail is about $8,000. A similar package of all Viking appliances runs $8,500, typically this package would cost nearly $11,000.  If you’re in the market for new appliances let me know, I’d be happy to make this connection for you.  It’s only available through this program but you don’t have to be buying or selling a home to get the deal, you just have to know me!Many of us express ourselves through our choice of paint color but when it’s time to sell, paint over that red, purple or overly green wall, it’ll save you days on the market.  Many homeowners are repainting the outside of their home these days, too.  It’s best to stick with the natural tones here, too.  Shades of brown and gold are very pleasing and enhance curb appeal.  A bad roof will ding you when it comes time to sell.  Every Buyer will ask for it to be repaired/replaced if it’s in need.  Be prepared to take a hit on the price if you’re not willing to fix that one.While there’s not much you can do about a bad location, it’s important to be able to recognize your dilemma and set your price and expectations accordingly.  We have a lot of potentially “bad” locations with all the 202 speculation.  If you back to a busier road, power lines or commercial space, expect to earn less in a sale than your neighbor who is on the other side of the street or protected by a more interior lot.  Last Friday I was out with a client (Buyer) and we saw 16 houses.  I could not believe the number of homes that were messy, dirty and in disrepair, all right here in Ahwatukee.  Some Sellers haven’t yet figured out that it’s a Buyer’s market. My client said to me two times during the day that seeing a home so dirty made her concerned over all the stuff you couldn’t see that they didn’t take care of – and that’s what just about any Buyer will think.  Keep the maintenance up on your home (roof, HVAC, fresh paint, other mechanicals, etc.), for the sake of your family if for no other reason.  If you know it needs to be fixed, fix it.Well, that covers a lot of territory.  I’ll do a fun blog next time, complete with some new remodeling tip and photos! 

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